in the KNOW

April 20, 2012

Bill Addressing Attacks on Farms Moves Forward

One of several trucks destroyed at Harris Farms in January.
*Photo by Harris Farms as printed in the Fresno Bee.

Assemblyman David Valadao’s (R-Hanford) measure, AB 2177, to tighten criminal penalties for those committing certain types of violence at livestock facilities was unanimously approved out of the Assembly Committee on Public Safety on Tuesday.

Specifically, AB 2177 adds livestock facilities to the list of places where it is a felony to ignite a destructive device or commit arson with the intent to terrorize. A prison term of up to seven years could result fro engaging in such action, and the felony charge could be combined with other charges to include penalties of up to 10 years or life in prison, according to the California Cattlemen’s Association, a key advocate for the bill.

The bill covers, but is not limited to beef cattle feedlots, milk cow dairies, egg and poultry operations, swine breeding and growing farms, livestock auction yards and slaughterhouses.

AB 2177 was written after an arsonist stuck Harris Farms in Coalinga. The incident in January destroyed 14 tractors and numerous trailers with losses totaling over $2 million. Authorities are offering a $100,000 reward in the investigation leading to an arrest in the attack.

Ag Council supports this legislation to hold those accountable for agricultural attacks, such as the one at Harris Farms. AAB 2177 now moves to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations for consideration.

Ag Unites to Oppose Labor Bill

Ag Council, along with other agricultural organizations, spoke out in the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment on Wednesday against an onerous state measure relating to heat illness on farms. The bill, AB 2346, is supported by the United Farm Workers and the author is Assemblymember Betsy Butler (D-Torrance).

AB 2346 singles out agriculture and would implement civil and criminal liability provisions relating to heat illness on farms that are not necessary given that the state already has a well-structured regulation in place to protect farmworkers from heat illness.

The bill was developed without consultation with the agricultural community and relies upon data that does not comport with state statistics on heat illness.

The existing heat illness regulation, developed by Cal/OSHA, is supported by agriculture, and the agricultural community has actively engaged in outreach to educate and train farmers and farm labor contractors on how to prevent heat illness in farmworkers via webinars, training sessions, videos, brochures and other mechanisms.

Unfortunately, the Committee on Labor and Employment approved the bill by a vote of 5-2. AB 2346 will next be considered in the Assembly Committee on Public Safety where Ag Council will continue to oppose the bill.

Cargo Securement Exemption Extended

*Photo courtesy of the Department of Agriculture
Measurement Standards--Kings County.

The cargo securement exemption for trucks that transport agricultural products was recently extended for an additional year, through April 30, 2013.

The California Trucking Association requested an additional year for the exemption from the California Highway Patrol and the one-year exemption was recently granted.

The extension allows time for a final report by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to be completed following testing of agricultural containers. The testing was conducted to establish whether containers allow an equal or greater level of load security when compared to the federal cargo securement regulation. The testing was handled in collaboration with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

If you need further information, please contact Captain Steve Dowling at the California Highway Patrol Commercial Vehicle Section at (916) 843-3400.

Vacancies Announced on Fertilizer Advisory Committee

This week, The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced two openings on the Technical Advisory Subcommittee for the Fertilizer Research and Education Program.

The Subcommittee analyzes and issues recommendation regarding the funding and implementation of fertilizer research and education projects to the Fertilizer Inspection Advisory Board.

The Fertilizer Research and Education Program funds and coordinated research advancing the environmentally safe use and handling of fertilizer materials in agriculture. The program assists growers, agricultural supply and service professionals, extension personnel, public agencies, consultants and the public. The Subcommittee and research program are funded through user fees and assessments.

Applicants must possess knowledge, technical and scientific expertise in the areas of fertilizing materials, agronomy, plant physiology, production agriculture, principles of experimental research, and environmental issues related to fertilizer material use.

Subcommittee members serve for three years without compensation, but travel expenses are reimbursed.

Click HERE for further details and information on how to apply. The deadline to apply is May 11, 2012.